Elsewhere I've cited Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Interestingly, he says,
Now, a newborn weighing 12 pounds is not at all "medium;" it is huge. And I presume that was equally true when Swift wrote.
Unless Swift was ill-informed or deliberately erring, we can only conclude that "pound" meant something different then. Can anyone illuminate?
I don't know the reason for this but there are differences existing between the UK fluid oz. and the US fluid oz.
As a great Swift know-it-all I will ask The Pedant if he knows when he comes in!
[This message was edited by Tadpole on Sun May 25th, 2003 at 6:53.]
Several possibilities, I'd say. Maybe Swift simply didn't know what new borns weigh. I doubt if they ever weighed babies in those days.
But my guess is that his character who is making the proposal is exaggerating deliberately to make his case even better. In fact the second figure, the 28 pound one, is also pretty high, according to my wife. Roughly, she says, a baby doubles in weight during the first year.
It is also possible that the weight he was talking about was a little different - perhaps the Irish weights weren't exactly the same.
But I so admire Swift that I prefer to think he did things deliberately. Incidentally, isn't the MP a wonderful piece of writing? I often think of it when some modern politician is trying to sell us an outrageous piece of inhumanity.
I read in the Guardian the other day that the word 'Yahoo' which was of course invented by Swift to describe the human race, is now obsolete in its meaning of 'barbarian, person without intellect or culture'. Is that really true? I mean, I certainly use it, but do other people? (I assume that the computer people Yahoo means 'Yee-hah!' rather than Swift's meaning.)
...except, of course, when it isn't. Not when a US gallon isn't an Imperial gallon, and an ounce isn't even an ounce!
"Roughly...a baby doubles in weight during the first year..."
That's what the books said (Doctor Spock and such, 1940s, 50s, 60s) but my observation is that, in northeastern US at least, it's more common for the birth weight to be doubled at six months and trebled at twelve. Maybe that's part of the US obesity epidemic.
And as for Yahoo-the-Barbarian, I still see it used in that sense - usually in newspaper columns - and will use it that way myself if I think it will be understood. (Linguistic evolution being what it is, I'm sure there are also people out there who would like it to become a lower-case verb, à la google...)
[This message was edited by haberdasher on Sun May 25th, 2003 at 12:09.]
My own children did triple in weight by the first year. One is fighting obesity like I am, and the other is "fit as a fiddle" (where'd we get that phrase?)
My granddaughter hasn't tripled her birth weight yet and she is 16 months old now. She is a pee-wee but is in good health.
Re Shufitz' question, perhaps Swift was considering the afterbirth to be edible along with the child itself, and included it, although he didn't say. Considering that famine ravaged Ireland at the time of his writing it, six pounds would have been a more likely figure, IMHO.
I often hear Yahoo used in its original meaning, so The Guardian is clearly NOT guardian of English usage around this part of the big blue marble!
Interesting point, Asa. Definitely, there was something wrong with that 12# figure.
I am confused. I thought babies were supposed to double their weight in 6 months and treble it in 12 months. However, it has been a long time since I have been in pediatrics. One Web site said that breast-fed babies doubled their weight in 6 months and were 2 1/2 times birth weight in 1 year. Is that just an average because of our obesity problem in the U.S.? My 3 kids weighed between 5# and 7#; does that mean they should have only weighed 10# - 14# at 1 year? That seems so light.
No comment on weights of babies (I haven't given birth in this reincarnation) but I will say that the term "yahoo" meaning an unlettered rube is still alive and well. I've always gotten a sense of this being more of a western term in the U.S. than anything else. If you say "Some drunken yahoo was tearing up the place," the place that first comes to mind would be an old-West saloon as opposed to, say, a New York speakeasy or some mint julep bar outside Jackson, Mississippi. One Dictionary.com definition of "yahoo" as "a greenhorn" seems to support this view.
How about "bozo"? This also used to mean something along the lines of "a foolish person" but since the character Bozo the Clown has dominated that word for the last five decades, I don't hear it much.
There was, however, one memorable usage during a Three Stooges short where some minor character was being badly thrashed by restaurant employees and thrown out of the place. When someone asked who he was, the bouncer explained "Oh, just some bozo who couldn't pay his bill!" I saw this on a kids' TV program back in the sixties and remember it because when the film was interrupted for the next commercial break, the host of the program made a point of assuring the young viewers that it was not Bozo the Clown who was being beaten up.
(Are you guys on the other side of the Atlantic familiar with Bozo the Clown? He epitomizes the concept of "bad hair day.")
From your description, I think our equivalent was Coco.
I remember many years ago in the catalogue for the resources library at Birminham University finding that we had a video called "Bozos building a boat".
It turned out to be about an African tribe called the Bozo. I'd been expecting clowns. It was such a disappointment.
Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.
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Being from Chicago where I grew up watching Bozo's Circus everyday, I get really nostalgic whenever I see his name. Bozo and Cookie and the Ringmaster and that game where you had a bunch of buckets lined up and you had to throw a pingpong ball into each one, in order, for prizes... Man, I wanted to play that game...
Man, I wanted to play that game...
So what's stopping you now?
quote:Oh, me too, Tross! As a Wisconsinite, I was so jealous of you Chicagoans! We often had "Bozo Ball games" at birthday parties, and I was sure I could win!
Well... the grand prize, banana seat Schwinn bicycle that I had my eye so intently on, has lost a bit of its allure when compared to my shiny Trek mountain bike!